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ADVERB PLACEMENT

beginning of usually, normally, often, frequently, Usually we see him at church.


clause/sentence sometimes and occasionally
Last night we went dancing.
NOT: always, ever, rarely, seldom and
never*

end of the usually, normally, often, frequently, We’ve performed


clause/sentence sometimes and occasionally thereoccasionally.

NOT: always, ever, rarely, seldom and Where did you eat yesterday?
never*
All the bedrooms are upstairs.

Have you taken the TOEFL yet?


adverbs of time: today, every week,
finally, already, soon Have you eaten dinner already?

adverbs of manner (how something is She sang that aria very well.
done): slowly, suddenly, badly, quietly
He drives competently.

middle of sentence

after BE verb adverbs of certainty: certainly, definitely, They are definitely suited for
clearly, obviously, probably each other.

They’ll probably arrive late.


after auxiliary verb
He has apparently passed the
before other verbs class.

They obviously forgot to read the


directions.

after BE verb adverbs of frequency: never, rarely, He is rarely morose.


sometimes, often. usually, always, ever
after auxiliary verbs We have never eaten Moroccan
food.
before other verbs
He always takes flowers to his
girlfriend.

She quite often invites people for


Thanksgiving.

They almost never go to the


theater.

after BE verb focusing adverbs: even, only, also, He is only five years old.
mainly, just
after auxiliary verbs We don’t even know his name.

before other verbs We’ve already eaten dinner.


adverbs of time: already, still, yet,
finally, eventually, soon, last, just He also rents chainsaws.

I am finally ready.

He is still planning to go tonight.

We just finished painting the


house.

after BE verb adverbs of manner (how something is She is slowly finishing her PhD.
done): slowly, suddenly, badly, quietly
after auxiliary verbs He has carefully gathered the
evidence.
before other verbs
We methodically checked all the
bags.
Forming Adverbs from Adjectives
Here are some guidelines on forming adverbs from adjectives:

1. In a large number of the cases, the adverb can be formed by simply adding ‘-ly’ to the adjective.

ADJECTIVE ADVERB
Cheap Cheaply
Quick Quickly
Strong Strongly

2. If the adjective ends in with ‘y’, replace the ‘y’ with an ‘i’ and add ‘-ly’.

ADJECTIVE ADVERB
Ready Readily
Merry Merrily
Easy Easily

3. If the adjective ends with ‘-le’, replace the ‘e’ at the end with ‘y’.

ADJECTIVE ADVERB
Understandable Understandably
Forcible Forcibly
Possible Possibly

4. If the adjective ends with ‘-ic’, add ‘-ally’.

ADJECTIVE ADVERB
Idiotic Idiotically
Tragic Tragically
Basic Basically
An exception to this rule is ‘public’, whose adverbial form is ‘publicly’.

5. Some adjectives do not change form at all.

ADJECTIVE ADVERB
Fast Fast
Straight Straight
Hard Hard

6. In the case of the adjective ‘good’, the corresponding adverb is ‘well’.


Placement of Adverbs

Adverbs can be used in diverse ways, which means that they are very flexible in sentences; they can be moved around
quite a bit without causing any grammatical irregularities.
Take a look at the following sentence: The speaker grimly faced the audience. The adverb in this sentence is ‘grimly’;
moving it around a little, we get The speaker faced the audience grimly. There is nothing wrong with either sentence.
What this goes to show is that an adverb can be positioned at multiple points in a sentence, and the guide below will help
you decide where your chosen adverb should go:

Adverbs used to begin sentences/clauses


Connecting adverbs
To place an adverb at the beginning of a sentence or clause is also known as ‘initial position adverb placement’, and the
adverbs that are commonly used in these positions are known as ‘connecting adverbs’, such as:
Consequently
However
Next
Still
Then
These adverbs are known as connecting adverbs, quite simply, because they are used at the beginnings of phrases and
sentences to connect them to what has been said before. For e.g.:
I did not care for her tone. However, I let it go.
I began to dislike my course within months having signed up for it. Consequently, I never did well.
That was the Medieval section of the museum; next, we have the Industrial Revolution.

Adverbs of time
Time adverbs, like ‘tomorrow’, ‘yesterday’ and ‘sometimes’, are among the most flexible of all adverbs, and can often
take initial position. For e.g.:

Yesterday I was very busy, which is why I was unable to meet you.
Tomorrow I am leaving for Calcutta.
Sometimes we feel as if we do not belong in this group.

Adverbs in the middle


Focusing adverbs
‘Focusing adverbs’ are those adverbs that emphasise a part of the clause or sentence to which they belong, and are
generally used mid-sentence. Focusing adverbs include adverbs of frequency (often, rarely, never, always, etc), adverbs
of certainty (perhaps, probably, certainly, maybe, etc) and adverbs of comment (adverbs that are used to express
opinion, such as smartly, responsibly, intelligently, etc). For e.g.:

You are always late.


I will probably be absent at the party.
He acted responsibly by informing the authorities about the wallet he had found.

Note: Adverbs of frequency are used before the main verb, not the auxiliary verb.

Adverbs to end sentences


This is the most common position for adverbs in sentences.
Adverbs of manner
Adverbs of manner are used to describe how something is done, and are generally placed at the ends of sentences or
clauses. For e.g.:
He wrote the answers correctly.
His stammer caused him to speak haltingly.

Adverbs of place
Adverbs of place are used to describe the place where an event occurs, and are also positioned at the ends of sentences
or clauses. For e.g.:
Father is sleeping upstairs.
In a couple of days I will be travelling north.

Adverbs of time
Adverbs of time, as discussed earlier, can also find their ways to the ends of sentences or clauses. For e.g.:
I leave tomorrow afternoon.

Adverbs splitting verb phrases


Old-fashioned grammarians sometimes recommend against using split infinitives. For example, they might
recommend saying, I don’t know if you presently are employed, instead of, I don’t know if you are presently
employed, even though the latter sounds more natural to most native speakers of English.
But the prejudice against split infinitives and other verb phrases is unfounded. It may seem illogical to place an
adverb between an auxiliary word and its verb, but it usually sounds better and is more common in both
informal and formal speech and writing.
In these examples, the authors’ avoidance of split verb phrases leads to awkward constructions:
Once ashore, the teenagers quickly were loaded into ambulances and rushed to Schneck Medical Center … [The Republic]
Montgomery officials currently are sifting through development proposals for lower Dexter Avenue … [Montgomery
Advertiser]
Man and man’s best friend soon can get together for a private meet and greet. [Youngstown Vindicator]

In each of these cases, the author could make the sentence sound more natural by switching the adverb and the
auxiliary verb: … the teenagers were quickly loaded … ; … officials are currently sifting … ; … man’s best friend
can soon get together … .

Adverbs modifying non-verbs


When an adverb modifies an adjective, adverb, preposition, or conjunction, it should immediately precede the
word it modifies—for example:
The text was extremely purple.
We traveled far beyond the border.

Adverbs and intransitive verbs


An adverb modifying an intransitive verb should immediately follow its verb—for example:
The leaves fall slowly to the ground.
The birds chirped languidly.
We make exceptions with the adverbs always, generally, often, never, rarely, and seldom—for example:
The dog only rarely barks.
I seldom go running these days.